Christmas Island postmark again proving popular around the world
CHRISTMAS ISLAND — Hughena MacKinnon never ceases to be amazed by the popularity of a simple stamp she applies often at this time of year.
And that distinctive and festive Christmas Island postmark the postmistress at the Canada Post outlet applies to Christmas cards each year is proving to be as popular as ever.
She often hears about that stamp’s appeal from the Christmas cards she personally receives in appreciation for applying that stamp, but also from people around the world who stop by the small post office.
“In the summertime usually, the tourists come in and say they have seen these in places and wanted to come see it and get some postmarks,” she said.
“Some of them laugh when they do it and I say ‘you are not alone.'”
The Christmas tradition usually results in a 1,000-per-cent increase in her workload between October and December, as compared to the rest of the year.
That means more than 15,000 letters and packages each year from people around the world who want that official Christmas Island postmark.
“The most we did in one day was about 2,200 cards a few years ago. Sometimes you think they will go down a bit, but if somebody doesn’t do it this year, there is usually three others who decide to do it.”
The tradition dates back 18 years when MacKinnon’s predecessor, Margaret Rose MacNeil, asked Canada Post to create a postmark named for the community.
MacKinnon, who first helped MacNeil before taking over the job for herself, said they had many regulars looking for the Christmas Island stamp.
“We don’t have people who have been coming for years, we have people coming for decades mailing their cards,” she said. “She wanted to do something special for them instead of the plain postmarks.”
What followed was a festive postmark that included a Christmas wreath that’s available in red and green ink so the mark will jump off a standard red or green Christmas envelope.
“A wreath is supposed to be a wish of good health for somebody that comes to your house, so this is a wish of good health and a smile when you see the postmark when the cards come to your door.”
There’s no limit to the number of postmarks someone could request, but people usually send one or two cards to Christmas Island inside another envelope, she said.
People have also been known to send as many as 50 fully addressed greeting cards to the office in a box, she noted.
“They are addressed with the proper postage on them when we get them. We just postmark them and send them back to where they are going.”
People also just stop into the office to get the festive postmark applied.
“They want to put the extra effort in when they send something to somebody and want to make it special. I’ve had people who have hand drawn their own cards and stuff. They put a lot of effort into it and have a lot of Christmas spirit.”
She said the Christmas spirit people bring with them is contagious, especially when they bring their excited children.
Christmas Island Post Office, 8499 Grand Narrows HWY, Christmas Island NS B1T-1A0.